Tort reform is an ugly duckling that harbors the potential to severely
harm victims of
medical malpractice, by limiting the amount of money they may recover from injury lawsuits.
This hot button issue is making the rounds all across the nation. States
wanting to reduce the dollar amount of liability to plaintiffs in cases of
medical malpractice. In other words, promoting or passing legislation that protects doctors
from being fully accountable for their mistakes.
Imagine if you will a totally disabled woman, confined to a wheelchair
as the result of back surgery gone wrong, when her surgeon made a mistake
and cut through her spinal cord. Imagine this woman only being able to
recover $250,000.00 for her shattered life. How will she pay for her total
care for the rest of her life with $250,000? More to the point, the actual
award would be less than $250,000, to cover legal and other expenses,
which would leave the woman with virtually nothing. And yet, she is a
quadriplegic, thanks to a surgeon’s negligence. Is this justice?
If you’re saying “no,” then you get the idea of what
is behind tort reform. Many say it is a good thing to reduce frivolous
lawsuits. As any medical malpractice lawyer with a good number of years
of experience will assure you, medical malpractice cases that go to court
are anything but frivolous. In many of them, the lives and wellbeing of
a severely injured patient hangs in the balance. Could you carry on with
your life if you were disabled and had no money, and the doctor who harmed
you only paid $250,000, when caring for your disability may run into the millions?
It appears that there is a hint that at least one state. Oregon is re-thinking
its position on this controversial move, or at the very least, reconsidering
pushing such reform through. Whether that will mean they ultimately do
not introduce the bill or not isn’t clear. However, if there is
at least a pause from the pell mell rush to doing a deal and some sober
second thought, perhaps this will help reinforce the point of the true
injustice to the victims by capping med mal damage awards.
Oregon has a history of trying to introduce a bill that would cap non-economic
damages and one that would create a panel of experts to review pending
malpractice cases. Both of those bills died before they saw the light
of day. Unfortunately, there is still the prevailing attitude that if
there were such a law in place, it would reduce the costs of defensive
medicine and lower the cost of med mal insurance. Of course, there are
two sides to these issues and it largely depends on which side you are
on, as to which point of view you espouse. Sadly, no one is asking the
victims for their thoughts.
At some point, the powers that be will need to carefully listen to those
who have been victims of medical malpractice; those whose lives will never
be the same again. Why victimize them twice by not allowing them full
compensation for their injuries, caused by the negligence of a medical